Respiratory dose-response study of normal and asthmatic volunteers exposed to sulfuric acid aerosol in the sub-micrometer size range
Avol, E.L.; Linn, W.S.; Whynot, J.D.; Anderson, K.R.; Shamoo, D.A.; Valencia, L.M.; Little, D.E.; Hackney, J.D.
Toxicology and Industrial Health 4(2): 173-184
ISSN/ISBN: 0748-2337 PMID: 3051519 DOI: 10.1177/074823378800400203
Twenty-one healthy and 21 asthmatic volunteers were exposed to respirable sulfuric acid aerosol (mass median particle diameter approximately 0.9 micron, geometric standard deviation 2.5) in a chamber at 21 degrees and 50% relative humidity. Measured sulfuric acid concentrations averaged 0, 380, 1060, and 1520 micrograms/m3 (in the occupational range, higher than concentrations observed in ambient air pollution). Exposures to different concentrations occurred in randomized order 1 week apart. They lasted 1 hr and included three 10-min periods of heavy exercise. Healthy volunteers showed no statistically significant changes in pulmonary function, airway reactivity to inhaled methacholine, or overall reporting of irritant symptoms which could be attributed to acid exposure. They did show a slight statistically significant (P less than .01) increase in cough with increasing acid concentration. At the two highest acid concentrations, asthmatics showed significant increases in irritant symptoms and decrements in pulmonary function, without significant changes in airway reactivity. Their function decrements appeared to increase with time during exposure. Previous studies in fog (10 degrees, median particle diameter approximately 10 micron) with similar concentrations of sulfuric acid showed more symptoms but less pulmonary function change, perhaps reflecting different sites of particle deposition in airways and/or different degrees of neutralization by airway ammonia. This and earlier evidence predicts little, if any, acute irritant response in short-term (1 hr or less) exposures to sulfuric acid at concentrations found in ambient air pollution.